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KBF AW 2015 runway show

KBF AW 2015 runway was the last one I saw this season. I got to see it previous year accidentally but this time I specifically chose it as my final show because I knew it won’t disappoint me. The hall was packed but my friends and I were lucky to get seats in the second row. I did better with my photos because I was so close. By the way my camera settings for 38mm lens were shutter speed 500, F2.8, ISO 6400. The show was amazing. The visual effects made models appear to be walking in a sand storm. And the alienesque looks of the models made it even more surreal. The theme for the collection evolved around journey. There was a lot of outerwear and oversized sweaters. I really liked the white mixed-knit one. The collection was very retail-oriented. There was nothing particularly innovative going on but I liked a lot of pieces including quilted coat and maxi skirts. Color palette was also right up my alley. I’ll be checking these looks in the stores for sure.

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I really like this model, Mona Matsuoka. She is stunning.

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Jotaro Saito runway show AW 2015

Jotaro Saito kimono runway was one of the most spectacular shows I have ever seen. I am truly fascinated with the perfect balance between modern and traditional that Japan in general is so good at but Jotaro Saito takes it to the next level. He makes traditional kimono attire look cool, effortless, nonchalant. His runway show was a sort of role-playing game. Men appeared with a big samurai-like attitude, almost bothered by the whole idea of showing off what they wear. Women were timid, gracefully gliding through the runway portraying the traditional role of a woman in Japanese society. Yet, at the same time, they also appeared hunting, mysterious, regal, almost superior to the proud men next to them. I love these misguiding appearances. I love the idea of huge power under a timid surface and a humble nature behind grandeur.

Designer’s contemporary kimono were beautiful. My favorite was a black and white graphical one with the navy overcoat. I would wear the coat alone with my normal clothes. The silhouette is very in trend right now.

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Sretsis AW 2015 at Tokyo Fashion Week

Sretsis gave a beautiful start to the Tokyo Fashion Week, presenting their AW 2015 collection in a whimsical, romantic setting of an enchanted forest. Maze-like runway was so smart. It gave us the opportunity to enjoy each look multiple times despite the high pace of the show. The flower rain at the finale was absolutely perfect. I couldn’t have asked more from a fashion show. I was instantly hooked, inspired and seriously in love with the brand. I can’t wait for the calibri print maxi dress and the white lace polka dot dress to hit the stores. The models were beautiful too, made me miss my long hair. ^-^

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Adorable Beni chan made her runway debut. This kid is seriously cute.

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After the show I caught up with other bloggers Yuri, Maya and RinRin Doll. Yuri was wearing Sretsis off-shoulder piano dress.

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I am planning to see a couple of more shows tomorrow and Friday. Im excited to work on my exposure triangle. I believe I got better at taking runway photos. The Sretsis ones are very grainy but considering how far away from the stage I was sitting, I’d say it is still a pretty decent job. Stay tuned!

The next big trend in fashion? Sharing!

Sharing economy is upon us. The trend has started long time ago but has been booming in the past several years with the creations of social sharing services (Asmama, Taskrabbit), peer-to-peer accommodations (Coachsurfing, Airbnb), bike and car sharing and now fashion. Why buy clothes when you can rent it? There is so much good behind the idea. Instead of buying a 300$ dress to wear for a wedding or a party and then storing it in the closet for half a year or more (because who wears the same dress to consecutive parties? That would mess up my Instagram feed!), you can just browse through rental outfits online, choose something you like and have it delivered to your door. Plus, fashion is so time sensitive. I may invest 400$ into a leather vest only to realize that it is so 2013 and nobody cares anymore. And think about how much money and closet space you can actually save! I’d rather rent a Prada bag for 5000 yen for FNO than become the sole owner of it for 200000 yen and have my toddler spill juice all over it. After all high-end designer bags are for show-offs. A 150$ Baggu bag or 300$ Liebeskind bag are much better choices for daily use. So much more comfortable. How wonderful would it be to store in the closet only the things you use on a daily basis, your basics, your favorites and having the rest rented for the appropriate occasion. I came across several services that are representing this new business model in Japan. They are not yet fully developed or provide a wide enough range of options but I am sure they will get there and when they do, I am going to be in the ranks of their loyal customers for sure.

So how does the magic happen? Usually, rentals are offered through a monthly membership plan (basic, premium or VIP). Shipping and cleaning is free (already included in the rental price). You register your sizes and brand preferences that become the baseline for the service when they create a wardrobe for you. You are also free to browse the items yourself within your membership plan.

Here are several services that I found in Japan:

Air closet operates based on a fixed monthly membership fee of 6.800 yen + tax. Every month you will receive 3 items that have been carefully selected for you by Air closet stylists. You cannot choose the items yourself but you can create a favorite list by browsing their item catalog. It will be used by service as a guideline when creating your looks. Offered items are ranging in price from several thousand yen to the maximum of 30000 yen per item. There is no deadline for returning the items. You can wear them as long as you like. When you do choose to return them, cleaning and shipping will be covered by the service.  You can leave ratings for the stylists later on. For now, Air closet is only dealing with clothing items (no bags or shoes yet).

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Licie is an actual shop in Shinjuku and but they plan to open an online service too in the early June 2015. There is also going to be a 3 day popup shop opened in Harajuku from March 20th to March 22nd. They offer three plans:

Trial – 500 yen for one piece of clothing. Maximum rental period is 1 week.

Basic – 1000 yen for 3 pieces of clothing. Maximum rental period is 1 week.

Premium – 3000 yen for up to 10 pieces of clothing. Maximum rental period is 1 week.

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Unlike Air closet that only deals with clothes from 1000 to 30000 yen in retail price, Licie offers high-end brands such as Fendi, Burberry, Miu Miu, Marc Jacobs, Gucci as well as low-end fast fashion from Zara, Nice Claup etc. You can check coordinated looks on their Instagram account @licie_official as well as post your own.

You can return the items either by bringing them back to the store or sending via mail (on your own dime). You can also choose to buy the item if you really like it. Professional styling services are free of charge. There are several fun perks available to the customers such as selfie photobooth and free drinks at a small cafe. The service offers shoes, bags and accessories as well.

Sustina – deals with everything – you can rent, purchase or sell clothes, shoes, bags, accessories. At the end of March, the service is planning to go live as an app for iPhone and Android.

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Monthly rental plan is fixed to 5.800 yen + tax. You can borrow 5 items per one time but can borrow another 5 after returning your previous order. There are no restrictions on how long you can keep the items. Shipping and cleaning services are free. You can also buy the item if you like it.

The service is mostly dealing with middle-end brands such as A.P.C., Agnes b., Hysteric glamour, See by Chloe, Jill Stuart occasionally also offering Burberry and Isabel Marant. It also offers an extensive selection from what you can typically find in Lumine, 109, Marui department stores – KBF, Snidel, Moussy, Beams, Tomorrowland, Ships etc.

I am getting excited by the minute. I have signed myself up to all three of them so stay tuned for more posts on how rental fashion is about to change my son’s life by putting him through college (on all the money that I save on shopping :)).

Printemps at Comptoir des Cotonniers Aoyama boutique with Adrian Hogan

Last Saturday, Samantha and I went to Comptoir des Cotonniers SS 2015 collection viewing party where our talented Adrian was drawing portraits of everyone who tried on new looks. It was also boutique’s 3rd anniversary since their move from behind the Prada store to Omotesando crossing.

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CdC PR maven Eri organized yet another wonderful event and an opportunity for me to try on everything I had my eye on and then some. Some things just have to be tried on to understand how wonderful they are, like this blurred Parisian cityscape silk dress with drawstrings at the empire waist.

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I wasn’t planning on buying it but now that’s all I can think of. The easiness of it is so alluring especially for the Japanese humid summer. Definitely a great piece for any wardrobe. For this time however, I am still living in winter so I settled on a cozy snugly super soft cashmere sweater and a silk white shirt to wear underneath it. I have been wearing it every day since. It comforts me in the most fashionable way. ^-^

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Samantha tried on one of the statement dresses from the SS 2015 collection and paired it with a short leather jacket, something I am also considering to buy. CdC leather jackets are really soft and always so flattering.

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The CdC prices for leather jackets are in the range of 50000-60000 yen which is lower than Diesel, Zadig et Voltaire, D&G, DKNY and bunch of others I bought in the past yet the quality is just as good. For someone who wears a leather jacket with everything, this really is a good buy. Worth every penny.

The new collection is all about denim, casual chic, modern prep and romance, In other words, it was designed for me. ^-^ I told Samantha that I always feel uplifted and sad at the same time when I visit CDC stores. I can’t decide what to buy because I simply want EVERYTHING! Except for the denim overalls. I wore them too much when I was little so I developed a life-long aversion to them. ^-^

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Adrian drew a very beautiful portrait of me. He is the master of capturing the essence of things. I always have difficulty with abstract thinking. When I draw, I focus on the details too much often losing proportions whereas he looks at his subjects as if they were just shapes. It’s brilliant.

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The always bubbly Midori is wearing a really flirty corn flower skirt with side pockets. It’s knee length and really flattering. Also on my wishlist. ^-^

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I also happened to run into Miki. She was wearing CdC limited edition Scarab beetle oxford shoes.

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Thank you Eri once again for the good time.

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YSL Volupte tint-in-oil launch party

Last Saturday, I went to a launch party of YSL Beauty newest product Volupte tint-in-oil lip gloss and lipstick. It was held at a cozy Montoak restaurant in Omotesando.

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I was so lucky to be invited among other bloggers, models, artists, stylists, fashion editors and PR mavens. This is the third time I go to YSL beauty launch event and I am always surprised at how different they are. It was a little bit crowded but even with the lack of space, PR team managed to organize fun interactive games, a social media print station and makeup booths to try new product right there and then. I really liked the new lip gloss and the fact that it stayed on all evening. I was super excited to find it in my gift bag. The lip gloss comes in 8 fun spring colors and lipstick has additional 2 limited edition colors. The product is on sale since last Friday. :)

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I met cool new people – Brasilian artist Yohan, beautiful models Juliana Minato and Kelly Ann and a sweetheart Taro who is joining Issey Miyake team from April. There were a lot of familiar faces too – Barby, Maya Kibbel, gorgeous youtube vloggers Nakagawa Yuri, Miki, Rinrin doll and Amiaya twins. And of course I came with my own gang of Tokyo’s coolest – PR goddesses Eri, Cecile, talented illustrator Adrian and charismatic Polish model Alexa.  Thank you guys for amazing time as always and Kozue san for the gracious invitation.

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About hair

Last week, I went to Hayato Tokyo to try a new keratin treatment that promises silky hair without the use of damaging chemicals. I chemically straighten my hair every summer to get rid of the unruly mess that it turns into in humid weather. The effect is permanent but it dries out the life out of my hair. The new keratin treatment is all about the balance between inner and outer beauty so of course I was instantly on board when my stylist Taichi announced he was looking for models to try it out. The treatment can be customized which means that if you just want to tame your curls a little bit without pin-straightening them – you can do it by choosing the solutions with medium intensity. I wanted my hair straight so I went for the strongest combination of “shape” and “smooth” treatments. And although the hair does become straight, it still has some texture to it. After 6 days I got my volume back but it still looks super polished. The effect is not as lasting (only around 5 months) but it is better in the long run. I’m actually making my hair more healthy rather than more damaged.. Let’s see how to goes but for now I am super happy.

Oh, and I chopped all of my dry, super nasty long hair – I just couldn’t deal with it anymore. I also want to grow my natural color back so over the next year or so I’ll be temporarily coloring my hair darker and darker to make the difference less visible. Right now, I went two tones down but the tint is not permanent – I have to re-do it every few months or so.. Overall, my hair requires a lot of work so taking the unruliness out of it was a super big deal for me. In a combination with a short cut, it became very low maintenance which is exactly what I need in my life right now. Yay to the keratin-treated short hairdos! Why didn’t I think of it earlier? ^-^

So this is the hair in its natural state – not blow-dried, not styled. It has a few waves here and there but overall straight and it has volume.

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If I blow dry it (or when I learn to do it properly), it’ll look even better. Also, I can still curl it with a curling iron and it will last for a few days.

If you want to give it a try, head to Hayato Tokyo in Roppongi. All the staff speaks English and were trained on foreign hair in NY and London.

Japan’s odd attractions

There are many things to do once you visit Japan, and besides the traditional places like ancient temples and manicured gardens with cherry blossoms, there are other, odder attractions that have been capturing the hearts of tourists and locals alike. In every nook and cranny of Japan, you’re bound to find something you’d never see anywhere else in the world.

For example, a few years ago a unique parking spot in Tokyo went viral on the Internet. It was a one-car parking lot with its own vending machine, security camera, and ticketing booth and you can see lots of them in Tokyo, jammed in between office buildings and apartment houses.

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Most of the parking lots in Japan are technologically advanced, fully automated and require no human presence. Most impressive are the ones that stack the cars on top of each other and those that hold the cars in a sort of rotating Ferris wheel to make use of space more practically. The latter had been the inspiration for some of the car parks shortlisted in the 2013 World’s Coolest Car Parks – an award that Parking4less likened to be “the Parking Oscars”. This one-car parking lot, weirdly odd and convenient at the same time is a true testament not just to Japan’s ingenuity, but to their practicality as well.

If you’re looking for attractions that you’ll never see in any other part of the world, you may want to check out the following:

1. Nakagin Capsule Tower

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Showcasing Japan’s love of experimentation and mixing functionality with fun, Nakagin Capsule Tower is one of the most recognizable structures in the country. It was designed by Kisho Kurokawa in 1972 and was meant “to establish a space for the individual as a criticism to Japan that modernized without undergoing any establishment of a “self”. A few years back, there was an architectural exhibition in Mori Art Museum where you could see the interior design of these capsules. I think Nakagin tower could have been what inspired Jesus Salinas when he opened his one room trailer hotel Caravan at Midori.so 2 in Aoyama which is by far the coolest, most creative place you can find in Tokyo.

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2. Sougenji or Kappa-Dera Temple

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As with any other country in the world, Japan has its own share of myths and mystical beings. The Kappa is one such creature – a water goblin that resembles a turtle walking on two legs, with an indentation on its head that has to be filled with water at all times if it wants to stay alive. An important part of Japanese culture, the Kappa has been given its own shrine, called the Sougenji or Kappa-Dera Temple, and the temple supposedly houses petrified parts of an actual Kappa. It’s also known as one of Tokyo’s most haunted places. And if you are really into haunted, Japan offers some of the most dramatic, painfully beautiful ruins from abandoned factories to apartment buildings right in the heart of Harajuku, to really spooky hospitals in the outskirts of the city and that’s just Tokyo. Think of the golden mine that is Gunkanjima island. My friend Adeyto went there a few years back and shot this rare video.

3. Pasona O2

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Japan is a country that finds itself at the forefront of technological advancement, yet still relying heavily on its agricultural industry. With agriculture and farming at its core, Tokyo shelters a hidden jewel: the Pasona O2, an underground urban farm that continues to inspire others around the world. Found in the vaults of an abandoned bank, the farm stretches out beneath Tokyo’s streets, growing everything from herbs to flowers using the latest technology.

4. Robot restaurant

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By far, the most bizzare place I am yet to stumble upon in Japan. If you are into psychedelic semi-nude girls riding unicorns and giant para-para dancing robots, this is a place for you. I have no words to describe it. It is no doubt a tourist trap but the one you are happy to be caught in because it offers a lot of weird surprises that make you laugh and forget the boundaries of normal. If you want to get high without getting high, head to the Robot restaurant. ^-^

Japan has always had an interesting culture with its unique balance of the traditional and the modern. It’s little oddities will never bore you and make you visit the country over and over again. If you know any other wonderfully weird places, leave your comments!!

Journeys in Japan : Karuizawa and Matsumoto

I am recently super late on my travel posts. The volume of photos is one of the reason. The other, I want my posts to be informational and useful to those who travel and that requires a lot of research which almost always throws me into a stalling mode. But with all the posts on fashion that I did these couple of months, I am on the verge of being labeled as “fashion blogger” so I decided to pivot my focus and get down to the posts about the trips I took this year. ^-^

In June, we took a trip to Karuizawa with another Russian family and rented a cottage together. It is not so expensive to rent a family-type cottage in Karuizawa but if you do it with another family, it is even better. ^-^ The one we chose (Highland resort, Kita Karuizawa) had two bedrooms with three beds in each room – absolutely perfect even for families of 4. ^-^ Plus, there is a big sofa in the living room.

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There is a designated space for barbeque in the area but if you have your own equipment, you can also do it on the porch of your cottage. All you need to bring is the grill or brazier, skewers and coal, the rest is provided within the cottage – pots, plates, glasses, cutlery along with the fridge, rice cooker and toaster. Bedlinen, towels and hairdryer are there too.

My friends were originally from Uzbekistan and of course knew a thing or two about how to make a perfect barbeque spread. They did lamb, pork and beef for us and chicken skewers for the little ones.

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After dinner, we went for a little walk around the forest. The sunset was breathtaking. They say that if the skies are pink, the next day is going to be wonderful and it really was. This trip to Karuizawa was one of the best ones and my son had so much fun, I am sure it will leave a positive print on him even if he won’t remember it.

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We played a little bowling. I am still amazed at how a 1.5 year old could lift heavy balls and throw them in the right direction. We give so little credit to babies, yet they prove us time and again how smart and creative they are.

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Although the rule of not stepping on the lane with your street shoes on (or not at all!) was beyond his comprehension. ^0^

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On the morning of the next day, we went to おもちゃの王国 (The kingdom of toys) – a magical place where children of all ages can enjoy not only various toys and attractions but also play sports, trek forest, swim and try different crafts.

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If it is too hot or cold outside, you can always hide in one of the indoor areas and play with wooden toys from different counties, roleplay with hundreds of various dolls or build your own city at the Prorail train wonderland. There is also a restaurant area with kids menu – not much variety there but you do have a choice between a bento with hamburger, sausage and potatoes and a bowl of udon (wheat noodles). There are also ramen, curry, fried chicken and I think pasta.

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After the amusement park, we headed to Hoshinoya – a beautiful contemporary resort from the famous chain of luxury hot springs. We couldn’t afford to stay there but the hot spring itself was quite affordable. For 1300yen (750yen for children) you can use any of the indoor or outdoor baths for the unlimited amount of time. I went there around 2PM with my son and there were only a couple more people. The bath was surrounded by trees with birds singing in them. It had a couple of small waterfalls and lots of sitting stones for sunbathing. My son loved it so much, he didn’t want to get out. We were sitting in water hugging each other, singing and watching dragonflies above our heads. That was the absolutely perfect moment I carefully stored in my memory to cherish for the rest of my life.

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From Karuizawa, our little family headed East to visit Matsumoto – a beautiful preserved city in Nagano prefecture.

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We decided to stay close to the center at a small but very stylish Matsumoto Marunouchi hotel.

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Upon checking in , we took a walk on Nawate street – an old-fashioned shopping district running along the river that hosts a lot of small antique galleries, eateries and my favorite of all – used book stores. The city is famous for its soba – buckwheat noodles, wasabi and raw horse meat – everything is of course produced locally with wasabi farm being the largest one in the world. Unfortunately, traveling with a 1 year old we couldn’t try any of these things. With soba shops, they almost always only sell soba in there and he never tried it before. The risk of an allergy reaction was something we didn’t want to deal with while traveling. So instead, we went to a good old family-type restaurant with an open salad bar where my son suddenly discovered his passion for free veggies and ate like three plates of mini tomatoes, cucumbers and baby corns. ^-^

By the time we got to Matsumoto-jo – the main attraction of the city and one of the biggest castles in Japan, it was already closed but we got to enjoy its exterior grandeur as well as beautiful sunset in its garden.

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Since we were already in the gate city to Japanese alps, we couldn’t help but visit the Azumino national park – beautiful area in the footsteps of mountains with a gorgeous view and a lot of entertainment for children including trampolines, stilt-walking, exploring woodland trails and making local crafts.

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Our last stop was the very stylish Chihiro art museum that displays hundreds of work of the famous Japanese illustrator Chihiro Iwasaki. There is a baby area with wooden toys, children’s books library with tables and chairs to sit and read away. There is a stylish restaurant with an outdoor area where you can also take any of the books and read during your lunch. There are swings and small toys available as well. At the museum shop, you can buy the works of Chihiro Iwasaki as well as many other books including some foreign titles. There are also candies and cookies with the famous illustrations that make wonderful gifts.

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As always thank you for reading and stay tuned for the absolutely wonderful hot springs trip we took at the end of the summer in Izu.

MONKI SS2015 collection

It was my first time to visit PR1 office in Harajuku where Monki show room moved last Spring. My perspective of the brand really changes with each collection. When I first got acquainted with it two years ago, I thought it was in the ranks of Forever 21 and Bershka – young, cheap, street fast fashion but with each collection that I see, I am proven wrong time and time again. Yes, it is very affordable but it is also perfectly designed with clear concepts and great execution and a lot of pieces are very wearable even if you are a few check-boxes apart from the 18 to 25. The new SS2015 collection is absolutely amazing carrying a lot of sophisticated styles that are so me. Black, crisp white, silver and pastels are the colors represented in Monki’s fresh and very successful attempt at mixing sporty silhouettes with unusual materials like perforated plastic. I am completely mad about the perforated black skirt and bag. They will be on sale from the end of February and I will be the first one to snatch them because I got myself on the alert list, yahooo!!

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How cool is this denim dress? I really appreciate the subtle distress detailing on the hem. Oversized shift dresses have found permanent place in my closet because they actually make me look thin.

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The collection carries a lot of cropped tops – something I used to wear a lot when I was 16. Now, it is of course out of the picture (says my muffin top) but I still adore the style and envy the girls who can pull it off even at 30.  Cropped top and a maxi or midi skirt is my dream combination that will never go out of style. ^-^

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Thank you Tabasa for showing me around and for being so nice despite the fact that I destroyed your show room (I was particularly awkward and clumsy that day pushing, dropping and knocking things off).